24 October 2009

Queer Theory, Stonewalled - Nov 17th in Waterville!

Tuesday November 17th, 4-6pm in Lovejoy 103, Colby College, Waterville, Maine.

Light refreshments, All are welcome!

In 1990, Eve Sedgwick boldly announced what for many gays and lesbians by then seemed obvious: “The closet is the defining structure for gay oppression in this century.” Periodizing The Closet, Sedgwick specifies that “the phrase ‘the closet’ as a publicly intelligible signifier for gay-related epistemological issues is made available, obviously, only by the difference made by the post-Stonewall gay politics oriented around coming out of the closet.” Characterizing these politics in an early prefiguration of the political organizing and theorizing that has of late come to be known as intersectionality, bar-goer Philip Eagles affirmed of Stonewall, “It was the heart and soul of the Village because it had every kind of person there.” But in the decades since Stonewall, “every kind of person” has not received equal play time in Queer Theory-- certainly not the kind of person who happens to be a sex worker. In contrast with their gay and lesbian comrades at the altar, the ghosts of sex workers still sit on their barstools at the Stonewall Inn, “waiting for their turn at justice” (as Erotic Services Providers Union founder Maxine Doogan puts it). Given this profound disconnect between Queer Theory and the Sex Worker Rights Movement-- movements that would to many seem highly compatible and/or mutually implicated movements, predicated as they both are on a resistance to sexual stigmatization and marginalization--my intent with this talk is three fold: 1) to signal the curious silences that have from the inception of Queer Theory enshrouded the subject of prostitution/sex work, 2) to read into these silences —to consider them, per Sedgwick’s articulation of the silences enshrouding The Closet, as “speech acts” in and of themselves; and 3) to sketch the losses Queer Theory has suffered in the wake of its failure to make common cause with the Sex Worker Rights Movement.

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